Business Identity – The Make or Break Success Factor

All businesses have an identity, the thing customers and stake holders think of when they hear your business name. Not to be confused with brand or product, identity is something that gets less attention than it deserves.

Identity is the first association that a customer evokes when they think or hear of your business. It’s not something that you can instill or tell customers, however it can be controlled. In fact i’d say that at least 50% of businesses that fail do so because they have schizophrenic business identity because they have let the customer dictate their identity. If you don’t have a clear goals, strategies, rules of conduct and healthy boundaries; then you’re leaving your identity to chance – in the same way a kid in the school yard does not choose to be known as the shy one (etc), but after a few weeks it becomes a self full filling prophecy.

Marketing Your UPS

Marketing Your UPS

Take for example the restaurant business. I love the restaurant business; they are fascinating case studies because they have the highest proportion of failure, hence the most mistakes to learn from. Many restaurants open with nothing more than the stereotypes associated with the food and some aspirations to be great. If a customer takes a chance and tries the restaurant the owner will try so hard to make them happy they will literally kill their own business to make the customer happy. After a while their target customers will no longer be interested in the identity that the customers gave the business, even though the owner didn’t want that identity in the beginning give to his business. Prices drop to battle competitors who offer an equally unremarkable experience, eventually they are in a price war with a company that didn’t do the math right, both businesses lose money and go bust (or worse they survive on the bread line).

So what can be done?
First off you can’t force your story on potential customers, in today’s low attention society – no one cares about your business agenda. However if you show them or tell them a story – then maybe, just maybe that’s a worth their attention.

Take this picture from a restaurant, In a glimpse you know their story and what their identity is.

So decide on what you want your customer’s interpretation of your business to be and then put procedures into place to make it happen. This could be not serving certain types of drinks, enforcing a dress code, having a large bouncer in a dark suit with a headpiece at the door. Obviously take customers comments on board, but be sure to screen them through the question “will this bring me closer or further from where i’m trying to get to”. Remember if you don’t know exactly where you’re going then don’t be surprised when you end up somewhere you didn’t want to be.

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